Juvic kicks off gold medal quest in men’s Olympic golf

- Jun Lomibao

TOKYO—JUVIC Pagunsan sets off as another gold medal potential when the men’s golf competitio­n at the Tokyo Olympics gets going on Thursday at the Kasumigase­ki Country Club in Saitama.

Pagunsan will be facing one of the toughest challenges in his career as he plunges into the 120-player field that includes US Open champion Collin Morikawa of the US, Ireland’s Rory Mcilroy and reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of the host country.

Pagunsan, as well as lady golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdangana­n, are expected to follow Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal success in weightlift­ing.

“With Hidilym’s historical win, and the upcoming success of our boxers, our golfers are flowing with pride and honor and nationalis­m,” National Golf Associatio­n of the Philippine­s secretary general Bones Floro said. “What better inspiratio­n than to add to an entire nation’s success.”

The par-71 Kasumigase­ki Country Club is located in Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture, some 70 kms away from the Olympic Village in Tokyo.

Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino agreed to have the golfers billeted at a hotel near the venue to spare them of the discomfort­s of a long land travel. Pagunsan, for so long the country’s top men’s player, tees off in one of the last flights of the day with Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent and Paraguay’s Fabricio Zanotti.

Although a regular in the Japan Tour where a victory in the Mizuno Open got him in the Olympics, Pagunsan never played tournament golf at Kasumigase­ki course.

US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdangana­n start their own campaign in women’s golf on August 4.

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